Basic Box and Reso Building Questions -- for the love of fuzzy kittens, someone help me

Got most of the parts I need ordered !!  Now waiting (and praying Canada post doesnt go on strike tomorrow !!!)


While I wait....


I'm planning on making my own boxes for some projects, like a License plate Guitar, and a Reso.


3 Questions if anyone would like to jump in for me.,. thought I'd ask all in one post and keep it clean.


1) I will use 1/8" thick top and either 1/8 or 1/4 bottom.  BUT... what about the side frame? I was going to use 1/4 inch and about 2.5" deep.  BUT... was looking at some great Reso boxbuilders in here, and one in particular uses generic 3/4" thick wood.


I Want these to have good acoustic projection, and some will be electric.

A---- Isnt 3/4" too thick for acoustic?

B---- Is 1/4" thick enough for the pull tension of strings? I will probably use either a Neck Thru (along the bottom) or a bolt on (but inside bolt where it only goes through about 2 inch and bolts to a side-to-side brace.


2) Gluing -- I dont have the skills/tools to make a box joint.  I'm just doing a blunt joint (know what I mean?) and will use square corner posts to reinforce.  Will that be strong enough for tensions?


Also--   I'd like to put the shorter sides neck an tail end) inside the two long sides (instead of the short ends capping the sides.  When glued and corner braced, that should stop any possible tension turning on the neck end, shouldnt it?


3) Reso  -- I've asked how deep to make the box as I've seen cake pans etc used (a 6 inch cake pan i 2 inch deep).  I've decided on going either 2.25 or 2.5 inch thick.  But little confused on placement. I mean, I understand fastening some sort of cavern to drop a cone shaped piece in the box.  But.... some are using Inverted Cake Pans... that is the flat bottom with a bridge on it (insde of sitting down in and making a cavern.  I can see how this would be great for acoustics, but how to keep the pan in place this way?


b) -- Pickups...... I was going to use piezo disc pickups, but availability got bad for me.  I can affordably get cheap Magnetic ones that screw ontop of the box (but they are for 6 string, and my units are only 3 string ????)   OR  Piezo saddle pickup (little stick type) BUT glue it inside the box (on the pan ???) instead of in the bridge (again, amplify the acoustic instead)






(freak... hasn't summer started, where's the warm weather???)

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For license plate boxes I use planed 2 x 3/4", just cut the ends neat and square and butt-joint the perimeter frame - I pin and glue the back and screw on the front, 1/4 inch is plenty thick, 1/8 will also work.


Use a regular 6 string magnetic will work..if you want to get fancy slant the pickup so each string falls over a pair of pole pieces...decent sound guaranteed first time & everytime, whereas with piezos you may get lucky, or it may sound terrible.

Inverted cake pan reso - I made one from an inverted cat food can. String tension will hold it in place, but I also propped it up on three small pieces of wood, one, to let the sound out, and two, to make it even with the top of the box. You could also use the three pieces of wood (if they were L shaped) to keep the reso from moving horizontally inside the box.
Thanks folks !


Neck thru's as well as bolt ons that are properly braced and designed place very little load on the box structurally as far as string tension, so 1/4" is plenty strong. And a well built butt joint will probably be stronger than most original cigar box structures.

My opinion is that for acoustic sound, you should focus on getting a top that is free to resonate, but able to support the string tension at the bridge.

As far as pickups go, a rod piezo is superior to discs, but wont work well just glued in under the top, it must have the tension of the strings placed on it, and some attention to getting very even tension across the rod will give the best results. The only advantage of discs in my opinion is that they are simple and very cheap.

 Otherwise if you really want electric, go to a magnetic pickup.

Reso's are another set of building obstacles all their own. I would suggest maybe saving the reso build for later, after you have conquered a few other builds and developed your skills and confidence further, or at least studying some of the builds here and keeping it very simple.

Regards, and have fun!


With the reso you have to get the cake pan+ bridge at the exact height relative to the nut on the neck, s build it wilt some sort of ability to measure this exactly or make it so you can adjust it.

                                        Cheers Ron.


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